How can you qualify for an EB-1A green card?

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Introduction to the EB-1A Green Card for DIY Petitioners

What is the EB-1A Green Card?

The EB-1A Green Card is an employment-based, first preference visa category for individuals with extraordinary abilities in the fields of science, art, education, business, or athletics. 

This visa allows those who qualify to live and work permanently in the United States. This green card is part of the broader first preference employment-based green cards, also referred to as EB-1.

Why Choose the EB1A Green Card DIY Route?

Opting for a DIY approach to the EB1A Green Card application process can save you money on legal fees and give you more control over your petition. This is because this green card, similar to EB-2 NIWdoes not require a company sponsoring your application and you can self-petition without a job offer. You can also file your own petition without using the services of an immigration attorney. It is important, however, to understand the requirements and be well-prepared to increase your chances of success.

Understanding the EB-1A Green Card Qualification Criteria

Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability

To qualify for an EB-1A Green Card, applicants must provide evidence of their extraordinary ability. This can be demonstrated by meeting at least three of the following ten criteria provided in the USCIS website:

  1. Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  2. Membership in associations that require outstanding achievements of their members
  3. Published material about the applicant in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  4. Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization
  5. Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  7. Work displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  8. Performance in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments with distinguished reputations
  9. High salary or other remuneration compared to others in the field
  10. Commercial success in the performing arts

The Matter of Kazarian

While in EB-2 NIW we talk about the Matter of Dhanasar as a precedent decision, in EB-1A it is the Matter of Kazarian which set precedent in the way USCIS officers judge the cases. According to this decision, the USCIS officer will determine if a person is of extraordinary abilities in their field using a two-step analysis.

In the first step, the officer will determine if the petitioner provided the necessary evidence to meet the regulatory criterion. The officer, according to the USCIS Policy Manual, “should consider the quality and caliber of the evidence to determine whether a particular regulatory criterion has been met, to the extent the criterion has qualitative requirements”

In the second step, the officer should look at the evidence in its entirety and determine if the applicant “has sustained national or international acclaim and that his or her achievements have been recognized in the field of expertise, indicating that the person is one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”. Only then, the USCIS officer will conclude that the person has extraordinary abilities.

Sustained National or International Acclaim

Applicants must show that their achievements have been recognized in their field. This is typically done while proving that the applicant is a person with extraordinary abilities. The evidence used includes letters of recommendation from experts in their field, number of publications and citations, evidence of having served as peer reviewer in scientific journals, or other forms of recognition from experts in the field.

Continuation of work in the area of Extraordinary Ability

In their applications, petitioners should explain how they will continue working in their field of endeavor; in their area of extraordinary ability. While arguing this point, the applicant should carefully explain how he or she will continue using their expertise without switching to a different area or profession altogether. 

Entry will substantially benefit the United States

The petitioner has to establish that his or her work will benefit the USA nation as a wholeAlthough this point is not clearly objective per the USCIS Policy Manual, it is commonly accepted that the petition has to prove that the endeavor the petitioner plans to undertake has clear positive effects on the nation. One can look at the National Importance prong of the EB-2 NIW category for guidance on how to fulfill this part.


EB1A: An excellent choice for Indian and Chinese born citizens

The first employment-based green card category, which includes EB-1A, presents the highest standards in terms of requirements. This is certainly a challenge to many applicants, but it may also become a window of opportunity to others. Individuals born in China or India have traditionally faced the longest processing times in the US immigration system due to the quota mechanisms imposed by the US Congress. In this system, each country can only receive 7% of the green cards available in each category per year. 

EB-1 is one of the employment-based green card category that has shortest wait times for people born in India or China, so individuals with this origin should carefully review if they qualify and strongly consider this option over others. Taking into account that there are only two categories where one can self-petition (EB-1A and EB-2 NIW), EB-1 becomes the obvious choice for Indians and Chinese. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the Visa Bulletin from May 2023 below:

While China and India have a little bit over a year of wait time for EB-1, they have four and thirteen years of wait time for EB-2, respectively.

What is the chance of success of an EB-1A application?

While it is not possible to predict the approval rate of one particular petition, we can look at USCIS official data to gain insight on this topic. Recent data shows that the approval rate for EB1A is between 70 and 74%, depending on the period of time analyzed. THis data comes from a USCIS report for the Fiscal year 2022 and you can read all about it in this separate post.

Tips for Preparing Your EB1A Green Card DIY Application

Collect Supporting Documents

Gather all the necessary documents to support your qualifications, including awards, certifications, publications, and recommendation letters. 

Rework your Curriculum Vitae

It is always a great first step to review your professional history. Take a look at your CV and start polishing it and expanding it, making sure you cover all the achievements and experience you had. This will help you determine what aspects you can use in your own EB-1A petition.

Write a Strong Petition Letter

Compose a compelling petition letter that clearly demonstrates how you meet the eligibility criteria and why your extraordinary ability benefits the United States. We will cover the Petition Letter in a separate post.

Complete the Required Forms

Carefully complete and submit Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, along with the required filing fee and supporting documents. If you are in the US and the visa bulletin allows you may also file a concurrent adjustment of status (Form I-485). We will cover this topic separately. Keep in mind that even if this category does not require a Labor Certification form, one must still fill out parts of form ETA-9089 and enclose it with the application package.

Assemble the Final Package and Send to USCIS

The last step is to put all the documents together in an application package. This package includes the petition letter (cover letter), the letters of support or recommendation, any evidence used to establish extraordinary abilities, the forms and fees, and documents related to current or past nonimmigrant status, if applicable.  We will describe in detail what this petition package is composed of in a separate post. You can also download my sample petition to help you understand everything better.

Final Thoughts on the EB1A Green Card DIY Process

Applying for an EB-1A Green Card as a DIY petitioner can be challenging but rewarding. By understanding the requirements, gathering the necessary documentation, and thoroughly preparing your application, you increase your chances of success in obtaining this prestigious visa.

Resources for EB-1A Application as Do-It-Yourself petitioner

Intro to EB-1A in video format

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